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philipj

3D Software for the N64

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Here's something interesting I had in my "YouTube" archives... It was "SYMBOLICS" 3D software package that would later be used for the "Nintendo 64"... It was possibly used to make "Super Mario 64", which just completely turned the gaming world upside down at the time of its release... It would've been great if the Jaguar had something similar that could handle those kinds of graphics... Very cool stuff in my opinion; I'd love to see something like this on the "Atari Jaguar" for 3D game development.

 

 

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The 3620 was a beautiful machine but all of their machines were incredibly expensive, like in the $65,000 to $110,000 range expensive. It is interesting to learn that symbolics.com was the first registered .com domain in 1985.

symbolics.thumb.JPG.ea7563fd583b21899c57fd1209cc4d80.JPG

 

By then you had Pentium processors and 3D packages to do the same surely better and far cheaper, at least from a hardware standpoint. The software was still crazy expensive though, some being in the $12k range for a single license. It does raise the question as to why Nintendo chose to use or adapt it for their use, maybe it was just cheaper in the end.

 

Outside curiosity, not sure why anyone would want to bother even attempting to use such an archaic system for Jaguar 3D today though I see your point that at the time in the 90s, it might have been an interesting idea. An idea Atari would have never even considered due to pricing alone.

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The original Jaguar 3D conversion software takes .3DS file from Autodesk's 3DS max, I don't know if it had similar features to the Symbolics software but going by todays prices it was probably quite expensive at the time.

 

Some people claim that Blender works for doing Jaguar stuff but I could not get it to do so as it dose not appear to create true Autodesk 3DS files for the Atari conversion tool.

 

I like Gmax, a free cutdown equivalent of an older version of 3DS max but as I recall I have to use the Starfleet Command exporter (3DS exportation disabled when made free) and pass that through MilkShape to create the 3DS files. You could use MilkShape directly, which at about 30 euros is not expensive but it has more of a freehand drawing interface and I find the numerical entry option available in Gmax easier (probably due to prior experience with mechanical CAD software and lack of drawing skills).

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3D Studio Max was the de-facto industry standard in the 90's IIRC, and the company is less than an hour from where Atari's Sunnyvale location (assuming you could still drive through San Francisco itself in under an hour during the day back then, but I digress) was. It was probably a no-brainer choice at the time.

 

I'd be curious what kind of problems there are with 3DS files exported from Blender. That had been my plan for generating 3D content to mess round with. Were you using the latest 3ds exporter code from here: https://github.com/blender/blender-addons-contrib? Were you using the right version of the jaguar conversion tool (3ds2jag, later 3dsconv)? There are a few versions of that floating around, and they have to roughly match the version of the Atari 3D engine code you're using them with. Regardless, the .j3d and .n3d formats are pretty basic. Probably wouldn't be *that* hard to write a little native exporter for Blender if someone were motivated. Hardest parts might be conversion to fixed-point.

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Back in the day, when we were working on the N64, we used SGI's to do all the content and development. On the SGI, we used softIMAGE for our modeling and animation, and wrote our own custom tools to export and extract assets into our custom N64 runtime code. Back then, the official development kit was SGI Indy based, so both programming and content creation were using the same environments.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/7/2021 at 3:41 PM, Clint Thompson said:

Outside curiosity, not sure why anyone would want to bother even attempting to use such an archaic system for Jaguar 3D today though I see your point that at the time in the 90s, it might have been an interesting idea. An idea Atari would have never even considered due to pricing alone.

Well I'm thinking more exclusively for Jaguar 3D development more than anything else... I think it would merit some effort using the Jag for that purpose. I think Atari had a missed opportunity with the Jaguar and ST... Certainly with the lower 520ST computers, I think interfacing the ST with a Jag for commercial use back during the system's hey day would've been nice. 

 

13 hours ago, Stephen Moss said:

I like Gmax, a free cutdown equivalent of an older version of 3DS max but as I recall I have to use the Starfleet Command exporter (3DS exportation disabled when made free) and pass that through MilkShape to create the 3DS files. You could use MilkShape directly, which at about 30 euros is not expensive but it has more of a freehand drawing interface and I find the numerical entry option available in Gmax easier (probably due to prior experience with mechanical CAD software and lack of drawing skills).

Man it's been years since I used "GMAX" or 3D Studio... I remember "MilkShape... It was some kind of 3D modeller for low polygon 3D objects that were used in games for the original XBOX and PS2; at least the older version was. That stuff brings back fond memories when I was at VC for CAD, but they also had a lot of computer animators and 3D modellers there  using those big black "Alienware" computers. I was very fortunate enough to take up some 3D modelling although I never master texturemapping and I pass lighting class by the skin of my teeth... Still very fun times back then.

OIP.SVPlXOrYVWiZ43FTkC1KdgHaEK?pid=ImgDe

Edited by philipj

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36 minutes ago, philipj said:

Well I'm thinking more exclusively for Jaguar 3D development more than anything else... I think it would merit some effort using the Jag for that purpose. I think Atari had a missed opportunity with the Jaguar and ST... Certainly with the lower 520ST computers, I think interfacing the ST with a Jag for commercial use back during the system's hey day would've been nice. 

 

By the time the Jag was released, the ST was pretty much an obsolete platform. There was simply no market for the ST anymore outside of music production, and being able to interface it with the Jaguar wouldn't have changed that. 

 

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